Highlighting Montessori Thoughts this week
Each month the classroom newsletters, from Toddler through Upper Elementary, include a short essay called “Montessori Thoughts.” Whether short and sweet reflections of playground interactions or profound explanations of pedagogy, they provide insight into school, classroom and Montessori philosophy. This week, we’re highlighting several of these, from Early Childhood to both levels of Elementary.
Middle School artists create Museum of Memories
How a child learns to concentrate
Montessori Thoughts, from the February Apple class newsletter, Jody Sagawa
“The more the capacity to concentrate is developed, the more often the profound tranquility in work is achieved, then the clearer will be the manifestation of discipline within the child.”—Maria Montessori
Did you ever wonder why your child spends so much time in the practical life area scrubbing tables or polishing silver? We constantly strive to increase the child’s attention span through work. This work may be an art activity, it may be scrubbing a table, or it may be polishing silver. These types of activities are long, multi-step processes which gives the child practice in executing each step, focusing on the task at hand, and completing the process thoughtfully and independently. It is amazing to watch the focus and concentration of a polishing a silver sugar bowl. It is through this type of work that a child realizes that mindless chatter with one another is not necessary. In fact, quiet is almost necessary to concentrate and remember what step comes next! To watch a child attain this is a beautiful thing. The child is seen at peace, fully engrossed in the task at hand. It is through this type of work that a child truly learns how to concentrate.
In the gallery are a variety of Early Childhood activities from the North Creek and Woodinville campuses
Where creativity can flourish
Montessori Thoughts, from the January Willow class newsletter, Amy Fujimoto and Veronica Juarez
“Creativity is a contagious force.”—“Art as Medicine,” by Shaun McNiff
Our multi-aged, multi-experienced, and multi-action environment could seem overwhelming to people. The structure within the chaos is integral to the success of the Montessori environment. The structure is everywhere and yet almost imperceptible as you observe a classroom. Why are there rugs for working? This small structural item help identifies where people walk and at the same time provides a space for the student to create and learn. The shelves each have a function, there is a place for reading, writing, money, art materials, and zoology. Everything is placed back where it was found. It allows everyone to function in the environment and make use of the tools for learning. These structures give rise to creativity. If an individual knows where the materials are, has a place to use them along with the trust that no one will interrupt them, then the creative process can begin. As each child works, not everyone is doing the exact same thing, which also lends itself to creativity. Each student is encouraged to follow up with activities after lessons that inspire them. If they don’t know where to begin, the teachers can guide the student into an activity. Our Montessori classrooms encourage flexible and creative learning through the organization of the space and emphasis of working within a community.
In the photos: the children have been doing rotations of activities that range from Ozo Bots, Snap Circuits, and Little Bits. The children enjoy the opportunity to work creatively and in small groups during our ID Lab times.
Thank you, families, for the TSA luncheons
Our second Teacher Staff Appreciation (TSA) Luncheon of the year was a success! Parent volunteers worked hard to put together a festive family recipes/international cuisine-themed luncheon for both campuses.
“A very heartfelt thank you to everyone for the amazing TSA luncheon last week!” said Apple teacher Jody Sagawa. “The food was so delicious!”
A very special thank you to these folks who contributed to the event:
- North Creek campus volunteers:
- Faira Sullivan, Gayle Kwon, Sangeeta Vekatachalam, Daniela Ferreira, Erica Johnson, Katie Scott, Huan Lin, Solongo Purevsuren, Neha Shah, Jonna Erickson-Outlaw, Anita Ko, Laila Kabani, Cheryl Kellogg, Christa Charter, Weilan Zhang, Steffanie Scriba, Debra Ridling, Frances Ju, Camille Woolley, Jessica Ng, Sonika Saini, Jennifer Wiley, Norhan Saad and Erica Johnston.
- Woodinville campus volunteers:
- Lindsay Nason, Stephanie English, Kristi Larson, Yi Tang, Jialu Yan, Alexandra LaFontaine, Renae Kochel, Suzanne Mehren-Weed, Deepa Srinivasan, Cristina Podlusky, Chen Weng, Huan Lin, Had Wu and Jin Wang.
We are looking forward to our third and final TSA Luncheon of the year on Tuesday, March 31! More details to come closer to the date.—TSA Committee (Family Alliance)
Read the Family Alliance newsletter
The winter edition of the Family Alliance newsletter has been posted to the FA page. Note that the next all-school meeting of FA is at 3:30 p.m., Feb. 10, at the Woodinville campus. Want to learn more about the Family Alliance and all it has to offer? Come to our periodic all-school meetings to discuss upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, leadership opportunities, social ideas and much more.
Cultivate a culture of embracing diversity
Montessori Thoughts, from the February UE newsletter, by Amanda Freerksen
“We must look to the children as a vehicle for bringing change to humanity, which has now become confined by prejudices and habits that cannot be eradicated. You can persuade, but you cannot alter the facts. The facts come from a deeper origin. To understand is not sufficient. We must educate humanity from the beginning for this purpose and put the children in an environment where they are not the prey of prejudices.”—Maria Montessori (The 1946 London Lectures, Lecture 13 “Study of Man”)
One of Maria Montessori’s most dominant aims was to present education of the child as a vehicle for peace. While she insisted more than once that “the child is both a hope and a promise for mankind,” it was never her intention to burden children with the weight of the future or the seemingly impossible task of ending conflict and warfare. Instead, it was her hope to build a foundation for peace, and it is up to caring, loving, and prepared adults to provide that foundation. No doubt, young people these days are sending the message that they are not waiting around for adults to do the right thing. In fact, the climate activists recently heralded in the news are indeed youth in the last two planes of development who are taking matters into their own hands, but that does not mean their parents should sit back and let them do all the work. It’s time for the grown-ups to do their part, but how? We must create an educational environment conducive to building peace and provide opportunities for taking peaceful action.
Honing the spiritual self—As Dr. Montessori stated in 1946, “An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking.” The first step, she explained, involves the spiritual development of humankind. From early childhood to secondary, the Montessori curriculum addresses spiritual needs as one of the fundamental needs of humanity. In the early years, students learn about the art, language, food, and music of different cultures through continent studies. At the elementary level, students explore different cultures through their studies of ancient civilizations from around the world. They learn about rituals and beliefs that may greatly contrast their own, and in the process they deepen their understanding of their own ideas. Furthermore, they come to recognize that while they may not agree with the beliefs they are learning about, it is important to respect the ideas that differ from their own. Ultimately, through these cultural experiences, the children begin to develop and hone their spiritual self.
Valuing and appreciating each individual—Next, the process involves enhancement of one’s own value as an individual. Upper El students have the opportunity to work on this step through our social-emotional and peace curricula. With topics ranging from identity and safety to reproductive health and digital citizenship, the message is clear. Our students are valued and appreciated for the unique individuals that they are. In addition, we have touched on topics of gender identity and expression and will further explore these ideas in the coming months. Furthermore, our literature curriculum supports this exploration of identity through texts like “The Giver,” in which students consider what the world would be like if there were no diversity, only sameness. Other students are reading about an experience that is entirely foreign to them in “A Long Walk to Water,” but despite not having to travel half a day on foot to fetch water, among other differences they explore in the text, the students learn that in the end, we are more alike than different.
Understanding the era—Finally, to build the foundation for peace, young people must be able to understand the era in which they live. Through our peace curriculum, students learn about topics ranging from Hispanic Heritage and Black History months to child labor to current events, such as an incident of discrimination at a local business. We provide students the opportunity to have an open dialogue about these topics in a safe place where they feel comfortable to ask questions and share their thoughts. Additionally, our science curriculum includes ecology as a pervading theme. Students have explored environmental topics such as plastics in the oceans, as well as animal conservation. Finally, they understand first-hand the importance of being good stewards of our land through our partnership with Friends of the North Creek Forest. To be sure, the students are well aware of humanity’s negative impact on the environment, and several of them have been working on ways to address this grave concern.
If our children are to avoid falling prey to prejudices, it’s up to us to provide them with an environment free of prejudices. Instead, we can cultivate a culture of embracing diversity in all its forms. Talk openly and respectfully about race, rather than just wishing racism didn’t exist. Visit a place of worship of a religion that is not your own. Listen to music in a foreign language. Attend a Festál event in Seattle to learn about a different culture (more information is provided through this link). Intentionally read books written by authors of various races and cultures. Better yet, ask your children what they want to do to bring peace to their world.
Students at work around the school
Board of Trustees seeks new members
Curious about the WMS Board of Trustees? The Board is a governing body that establishes policy, ensures the financial health of the school, and maintains and supports the institutional mission. The Board’s role is one of governance and oversight, but Trustees are NOT involved in management, personnel or curricular issues. The Board has five working committees: Committee on Trustees (HR), Fund Development, Strategic Planning, Finance and Audit.